ROCKLAND — Two weeks after many residents became aware of a partial land sale of the former MBNA property in Rockland, the City has begun its own clearing of the bushes that once separated the harbor from the parking lot and street above.
Tenants of the 12 Water Street property, under the ownership of Stuart Smith, of Camden, have been Archers on the Pier restaurant, the Pen Bay YMCA as a branch location, and a branch location of Yachting Solutions. Years ago, Smith also created an easement for the Boardwalk section of the Harbor Trail, which runs along the ocean side of the property.
In the beginning weeks of January 2021, Smith sold, to Safe Harbor Marinas, the land that includes Archers, the gazebo occupied by Yachting Solutions, the pier used by those two establishments, and part of the connecting parking lot.
The wooden Boardwalk easement for pedestrian use will remain, according to City Manager Tom Luttrell. Whether the easement for the stretch of concrete pedestrian trail in front of the gazebo remains public is still to be established.
Years ago, the City approached Smith with a request that the shrubbery be cleared away in order to provide the public with a view corridor; the City even offered to do the work and disposal, according to Luttrell.
For reasons unknown to Luttrell, Rockland’s request didn’t become reality until the sale, with Yachting Solution’s Bill Morong taking over as manager for Safe Harbor. Recalling City, public, and YS harbor redesign discussions centering around the mutual desire for the corridor, Morong contacted Luttrell with the marina company’s shared desire for clearing of the brush.
Under the new owner, the City has been permitted to cut, clear, and haul to the landfill. Morong then convinced Smith to allow the clearing to extend along Smith’s property in order to maintain aesthetics, according to Luttrell.
“When Bill took over as the property guy down there, he basically said, ‘I’ll come true on my word. I told you we would cut it,’” said Luttrell.
In fact, Safe Harbor requested a step further, according to Luttrell: take out the root systems for the vegetation, so that nothing grows back.